Infosys row: Former employees back N.R. Narayana Murthy in letter to board
Bengaluru: A bunch of former Infosys employees have thrown their weight behind
co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, and written a letter to the embattled board of the company, sharply criticizing its decision last week to issue a scathing six-page note blaming Murthy for CEO Vishal Sikka’s resignation.
The missive, dated 24 August, from 84 former executives and employees—including the likes of Sharad Hegde who was Infosys’s first employee after the seven founders—comes at a time when the Infosys board faces a complete overhaul. Sweeping changes are expected over the next day or two, amid co-founder Nandan Nilekani’s impending return to the company. Mint reported earlier on Thursday that the entire board, barring a few independent directors, has offered to resign from their positions.
“We, a group of ex-Infoscions want to express our deep disappointment and anguish at the manner in which the board has responded to Mr. Murthy in the form of a letter last week to stock exchanges,” said the former Infosys executives in the letter.
The letter by former Infosys executives also comes less than 48 hours after 12 domestic institutional investors wrote to Infosys, asking for Nilekani’s appointment to the board, and expressing their concerns over Sikka’s decision to step down as CEO.
“We started forming this group on Monday, and wrote this letter today,” said one of the former Infosys executives, who is a signatory to the letter. He requested anonymity. “Basically, we are pained by whatever is going on. The trigger was the press release on Friday by the board.”
The former Infosys executives said that Murthy had raised valid concerns about corporate governances lapses at the board and that he deserved “a data-oriented response”.
“...All the issues raised by Mr. Murthy deserve a data-oriented response from the board with fact-based explanations. As a person with not very insignificant shareholding and with a significant emotional investment, he has every right to seek answers and ask for higher levels of disclosure to ensure Infosys continues to have the highest standards of corporate governance, just as it had been for nearly 25 years since Infosys went public in 1993. In this context, we believe the tone and tenor of the board’s letter is totally contemptuous to Mr. Murthy,” said the letter.
“We, ex-Infoscions (many of us are shareholders as well), are as disturbed as Mr Murthy by these specific insufficient disclosures and seek clear answers from the board so that we are able to trust the board. We are no longer employees of Infosys, but we feel extremely proud of the organization and will always remain a part of Infosys that we helped build in our own small ways, under the exceptional leadership of Mr. NRN Murthy,” they added.
The executives said that the board needed to come clean as soon as possible, since many of Murthy’s concerns were still unanswered.
“Mr. Murthy had asked several questions which are still unanswered by the board. The former CEO Mr. Vishal Sikka has resigned citing distractions and noise. However, we believe this could also have been due to the board not providing detailed facts and explanations in a timely manner which probably led to such ‘distractions and noise’. For the board to accuse Mr. Murthy as the primary or even the only reason for the distraction and noise is highly unfair and unacceptable. The board needs to explain in depth, backed by facts and data, the issues raised by Mr Murthy, and come clean to all stakeholders,” said the former executives in the letter.
“In summary we, ex-Infoscions, who still take lot of pride in Infosys and its values, would like the board to address the issues raised by Mr. Murthy with facts and immediately withdraw the statement released to the stock exchanges which unfairly and unjustifiably blames Mr. Murthy for the current crisis,” they added.